New Delhi: The Supreme Court has pulled up both the police and Baba Ramdev for the midnight chaos in June last year at the Yoga teacher's rally at Delhi's Ramlila grounds, which ended in a police crackdown on his followers and the death of one.
Baba Ramdev's rally on June 4 and 5 last year, was in support of Anna Hazare's anti-corruption drive. Thousands of the yoga guru's followers were at the grounds when the Delhi Police swooped down to evict the Baba. Baba Ramdev's followers retaliated. A woman, Rajbala, was among 30 people badly injured and she died later in hospital.
The Supreme Court had taken note of media reports purportedly showing brutality of police action against Ramdev's followers including women and children, who were reportedly sleeping at the time of the crackdown. The Supreme Court said today that a sleeping congregation can't be called an unlawful assembly. It has sought action against both policemen and Baba Ramdev's followers who indulged in violence.
Here are the top 10 developments today:
1) The Supreme Court held that the police acted in undue haste and that police restrictions at the Ramlila grounds on the day of the incident were unreasonable and unwarranted. The state, it has observed, could have avoided the clash by exercising patience. It has reprimanded the police for failing to establish an emergency situation.
2) The court has held Baba Ramdev guilty of negligence. It has said that taking permission to hold such demonstrations is not irrelevant, which has been Baba Ramdev's contention. "He ought not to have continued with the dharna," the court said.
3) It has ordered Rs 5 lakh in compensation for victim Rajbala's next of kin. It has also ordered Rs 50,000 for those were grievously injured and Rs 25,000 for those with slight injuries. The court has ordered that 25 per cent of this compensation must come from Baba Ramdev's trust.
4) The Supreme Court has directed the Delhi Police to register cases against police officials who indulged in destruction of public property and attacked the sleeping crowd. It has ordered disciplinary action against those police officials "who have exceeded the limit" and those who "didn't help to rescue the injured." However, sources in Delhi Police have told NDTV that it did not order a lathicharge against Baba Ramdev and his supporters. According to them it was an individual's decision. The police, sources say, will first study the court's directions on controlling the crowds and see if a case needs to be registered against errant police personnel.
5) The court has also ordered the booking of cases against all those, including Baba Ramdev's disciples, who indulged in violence.
6) It has ordered an investigation on the entire incident within three months.
7) The court has held that real sufferer on that day was the public. The incident, the court said, was an assault on basic rights enshrined in the Constitution.
8) The court has said this is a glaring example of a trust deficit between the people governing and the people being governed.
9) Baba Ramdev has always alleged that the police action at his rally was carried out at the behest of politicians. Reacting to the court's observations today, he reiterated that. "The Delhi Police had orders from above for crackdown. The government has been undermining Constitution and law. To protest against black money is our right," he said. The Delhi Police, however, maintains that Baba Ramdev, who its says did not have permission to gather so many people at his camp, also instigated his followers to indulge in violence, forcing the police to act at that time of the night.
10) Congress leader Ambika Soni said the Home Ministry would study the report for the part that applies to the Delhi Police and take lessons from it. She, however, added that the court "has also made some observations about Baba Ramdev that he was negligent about the crowd and was not able to control it and because of which the Delhi Police had to interrupt the situation."
The BJP did not miss the opportunity and held Congress chief Sonia Gandhi, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Union ministers P Chidambaram and Kapil Sibal "accountable" for the incident. "Such an attack on peaceful supporters of Ramdev would not have been possible without political clearance at a very high level. The policemen have suffered, but what about political accountability?" BJP chief spokesperson Ravi Shankar Prasad asked.